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What is LTL freight shipping?

LTL freight shipping definition

Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping refers to a freight transportation mode where multiple shippers' goods are combined into a single truck or trailer for transportation. LTL shipping offers a cost-effective and efficient solution for shipping smaller quantities of goods that do not require the full capacity of an entire truck.

Benefits of LTL shipping

  • Shared Space: In LTL shipping, multiple shippers share the available space within a truck or trailer. Shipments from various customers are consolidated and loaded onto the same vehicle, optimizing space utilization.

  • Cost Savings: LTL shipping is a cost-effective option for businesses and individuals shipping smaller quantities of goods. By sharing the transportation costs with other shippers, each party pays only for the space they use.

  • Flexibility: LTL carriers offer flexible pickup and delivery options, making it easier to accommodate varying schedules and delivery requirements.

  • Smaller Shipments: LTL is ideal for shipments that are too large for parcel carriers but do not require the entire space of a truck. It is commonly used for shipping pallets, crates, and other smaller loads.

  • Reduced Environmental Impact: LTL shipping helps reduce the number of trucks on the road by consolidating shipments, contributing to lower fuel consumption and emissions.

  • Transit Time: While LTL shipments may involve multiple stops and transfers, carriers strive to provide competitive transit times. Shippers can choose between standard and expedited services based on their delivery needs.

  • Freight Class: LTL shipments are classified based on factors such as weight, dimensions, and commodity type. The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) system is commonly used to determine pricing and handling requirements.

  • Tracking and Visibility: Many LTL carriers provide tracking and visibility tools that allow shippers to monitor the status of their shipments throughout transit.

Factors that determine LTL shipping rates

  • Location: Generally, the further the distance, the higher the price. 

  • Dimensions: The dimensions and weight of the shipment help determine the freight class, which directly impacts rates. 

  • Mode: LTL shipments can be expedited, typically for an additional fee.

  • Type: A shipment that requires special handling or equipment (perishables, fragile, hazardous items) will likely lead to higher costs. 

Common LTL shipping questions

  • LTL shipping is widely used across industries that require efficient and affordable transportation for smaller loads. Businesses that do not have enough freight to fill an entire truck can benefit from LTL services, as it allows them to access the advantages of freight transportation without committing to a full truckload. LTL carriers specialize in optimizing routes and maximizing cargo space, making it a practical choice for businesses looking to streamline their shipping processes and control costs.

  • Understanding the features and benefits of Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping can help shippers make informed decisions about their transportation needs, ultimately enhancing their supply chain efficiency and customer satisfaction.

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